Beware of the loony right

15th August 2003 at 01:00
While I was pleased to see the article "Guru calls for swift reforms in maths" (TES, July 25), there was an important misquote in the article and I would also like to add a few words to add clarification.

Our proposals call for the disbanding of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, but only in the context of having just one English examination board (by amalgamating the AQA, OCR and Edexcel boards) with a very slimmed-down curriculum authority inside the Department for Education and Skills.

Having read the comments from the current QCA chairman, in which he calls for a "free for all" in examining, it is not the loony left that we need to be worried about but the loony right. We need an examination service that is consistent, honest and free from political interference and most definitely not based on competition.

The report also missed out the importance of putting trust back into our education system. In countries which have a successful and stable school education, parents trust teachers, heads trust teachers and teachers trust pupils with little or no political control. Teachers are treated as professional and all concerned act in a professional way.

Also, we did not call for the disbanding of the Teacher Training Agency but did suggest that its role should be integrated within the DfES, in part because we seem to have so many government quangos competing even among themselves for the action.

Instead, we need collaboration, co-operation and trust throughout education. We do need efficiency, but regarding competition as the principle on which our education service is based is fundamentally flawed.

Finally, interested readers can find our complete response to the key issues as stated by the post-14 mathematics inquiry, including our thoughts on the proposed national centre for excellence in mathematics teaching, by going to our website at: We would welcome comments from others.

Professor David Burghes

Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching

School of Education and Lifelong Learning

University of Exeter

Exeter, Devon

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